By Jean-Marc Dupuis
About half the population will suffer from hemorrhoids at some point in their lives, usually between the ages of 20 and 50. It is not necessarily a problem of the elderly or constipated, it can happen to anyone, including healthy people who spend a lot of time sitting.
Hemorrhoids, whether internal or external, are caused by enlarged and inflamed veins in the rectum and over the anus.
The main difference is pain: internal hemorrhoids do not hurt because the swollen veins are in the upper part of the rectum, which is not innervated. There may not even be any symptoms. But often you will find that you have a little red blood in your stool. The traces appear on the toilet paper or on the bowl. The fact that the blood is red proves that the bleeding is in the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract. If it is higher up, in the stomach or intestine, it has time to clot during digestion and is black in color.
Another sign of internal hemorrhoids is the presence of liquid stools, and the feeling of not being "finished".
External hemorrhoids, on the other hand, can hurt like hell. Some people can no longer walk. If left untreated, they can turn into thrombosis, which means they turn blue and bleed.
A lifestyle problem
The frequency of hemorrhoids in industrialized countries is not a surprise, given the diet and lifestyle of the majority of the population. They are much rarer in other countries.
The origin of hemorrhoids is too much pressure in weakened veins. This pressure is caused by digestion problems, caused by a diet low in fiber, sedentary lifestyle (especially office life), obesity. It is also common in pregnant women but hemorrhoids disappear after childbirth.
Toilet habits can aggravate the situation, causing irritation, bleeding, and itching:
- It is important not to "push" on the toilet. The natural movement of the intestines must cause the expulsion of the stool without forcing it when the time comes; however, you can exert a slight pressure, never more than fifteen seconds in a row, with your abdominal muscles;
- For this reason, it is important not to wait when you feel the urge to go to the bathroom. Respect the natural rhythm of your digestion.
- Don't sit in the bathroom for more than five minutes at a time. This position increases pressure on the rectum, which is not exactly what you want if you already have swollen and bursting veins. If necessary, stand up and take a walk until the urge returns.
- You should not scrub excessively with the toilet paper; however, the utmost cleanliness is required to avoid inflammation and infection. The use of a water tap for washing, as found in Arab countries, explains the lower prevalence of hemorrhoids.
- Sitting high on the toilet does not promote expulsion as much as squatting, so the need to "push" may be even greater. A study published in the 1980s showed that 18 out of 20 people who went to the bathroom in a squatting position had their hemorrhoids disappear. I'm not saying that you should replace your toilet with a hole in the ground, but having a healthy digestive system is all the more important because the position in which we usually go to the bathroom is not exactly the one we were designed for.
Be aware of bleeding
If you experience bleeding from hemorrhoids, seek medical attention, especially if it's your first time.
This is because bleeding can have other, more serious causes, including colorectal cancer, which is a common form of cancer.
Note that vitamin D is one of the best ways to lower your risk of colon cancer. Be sure to get your dose of sunshine and eat as much fatty fish as possible (three servings per week).
Hemorrhoids are most often caused by constipation. Constipation is usually caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and dehydration.
It can also be caused by chemical laxative abuse, irritable bowel syndrome, and hypothyroidism.
To prevent constipation:
- Eat a food rich in fiber. Be careful, dietary fiber has nothing to do with what is called "fiber" in everyday language. Just because a food is soft, easy to swallow, or even liquid, does not mean it does not contain fiber. There is more than just "All Bran". For example, pear juice is exceptionally high in fiber. Linen seeds, which you must crush with a coffee grinder before consuming them, otherwise they will pass through your digestive system, are also a very good source of fiber. Finally, there are seeds from India that are the natural laxative par excellence: psyllium. They were already used 10 centuries before Christ by the doctors of Upper Egypt? and are still as effective today. Be sure to choose organic psyllium. Take it easy at first if you are not used to eating a lot of fiber.
- To tone your veins, eat flavonoids. These are the substances that give color to fruit. You can find them in large quantities in fresh oranges... but also in red wine. In fact, wine is alcohol plus flavonoids in large quantities. It also seems that people who eat half their fat in the form of virgin coconut oil have better veins, and rarely get hemorrhoids.
- Drink mineral-rich water: The color of your urine will be your guide to how well hydrated you are. It should be light yellow. If you are taking multivitamins, however, don't be surprised if you have bright yellow urine, the result of vitamin B2. Hepar" water, very rich in calcium, is effective against constipation;
- Consume high quality probiotics. A good intestinal flora does not only allow for good digestion; it is an essential condition to achieve optimal health.
- Finally, keep your stress level under control. Eliminate unnecessary sources of anxiety from your life, if you can. A more relaxed life, with more controlled emotions, may be the key to eliminating gastrointestinal problems, and consequently hemorrhoids.
Natural remedies for hemorrhoids
This edition of Health & Nutrition would not be complete if I did not list the natural products that help cure hemorrhoids:
The first plant to use is unquestionably witch hazel. The Amerindians used it before Columbus. The Commission E in Germany (on medicinal plants), the ESCOP and the World Health Organization (WHO) all recognize the use of witch hazel to treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids. The leaves and bark of witch hazel contain 8% to 12% tannins, which are attributed to the astringent, anti-inflammatory and hemostatic effects of the plant. "Astringent" means that the pores of the skin are tightened under its effect. The skin becomes firmer.
To strengthen the veins, false holly fragon (Ruscus aculeatus) is your plant of choice. Known as the "light legs plant", it contains a steroidal glycoside, ruscogenin, used in ointments for hemorrhoids (Ruscorectal) or bags under the eyes. Indeed, its root, or more exactly its rhizome, has diuretic and vasoconstrictor virtues, which means that it tightens the veins.
Note that the ruscogenin is often used in association with the quercetin. It is a flavonoid with anti-inflammatory effects that is often associated with vitamin C, and it is to it that ginkgo and St. John's wort owe their medicinal virtues. Take 200 to 400 mg three times a day.
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) also contains catechic tannins, flavonoids, purine derivatives and triterpene saponosides. These constitute the aescin, known for its anti-hemorrhoidal properties. It is widely used in homeopathy.
In case of emergency and if no herbalist's shop is within reach, you will be satisfied with ice cubes. This is obviously only effective for external hemorrhoids, and you should take care not to apply the ice cube directly, but wrapped in a cloth to avoid burning your skin with the cold.
If you have aloe vera cream, you can use it to apply to the painful area.
Surgical treatment should be reserved for severe cases as a last resort. However, there may be no other solution.
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